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The first recorded successful descent of the river through the canyon took place when one-armed Civil War veteran John Wesley Powell led a team of nine men, only six of whom were ever heard from again.

Please explain the boldface part to me.

Thanks.
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Flora TangThe first recorded successful descent of the river through the canyon took place when one-armed Civil War veteran John Wesley Powell led a team of nine men, only six of whom were ever heard from again.

Please explain the boldface part to me.

Thanks.

Only six members of the team returned. The others died or were lost.
"descent of the river through the canyon"
Does it mean the group descended?
How do we say the river descended? IMO, the same way.
Is it reading lots of books that helps to decide between the two possibilities?
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"descent of the river through the canyon"
Does it mean the group descended?

Yes.
They went down the river through the canyon/through its part surrounded by the canyon..

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What is a "Kind"?
... We did some tests on water quality and determined that the Orleans river descended from the Mississippi river, but we continued to call them by different names ...
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Thus, you can say the river itself descended, but with another meaning (originates in another river).

A river flows down.
Flora Tang
The first recorded successful descent of the river through the canyon took place when one-armed Civil War veteran John Wesley Powell led a team of nine men, only six of whom were ever heard from again.

Please explain the boldface part to me.

The others were out of touch.

Maybe it is an euphemistical way or a strong suggestion to say they were died or lost.Emotion: thinkingEmotion: thinking
Marius Hancu

Thus, you can say the river itself descended, but with another meaning (originates in another river).


hi

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=%22the+river+descends%22&btnG=Search

this is the source of my confusion
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Inchoateknowledge



this is the source of my confusion
I understand. The meaning for many of those quotations is "the river drops ...."
Inchoateknowledge"descent of the river through the canyon"
Does it mean the group descended?
How do we say the river descended? IMO, the same way.
Is it reading lots of books that helps to decide between the two possibilities?
Hello IK

You're right to say that the sentence is ambiguous. However, one possibility is very remote: it would be remarkable if someone were to witness the moment when a river first broke through into a canyon (especially as the river may have formed the canyon in the first place).

The listener therefore defaults to the much more likely meaning: "people on a trip down a river".

MrP

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Edit: Also, "first recorded descent" suggests several instances. This too would be unlikely, with the river scenario.